The Victorian Government has introduced the Port Reforms and Other Matters Bill into State Parliament, which is designed to strengthen the operations of commercial ports and support hundreds of thousands of jobs.

This Bill is the State Government’s response to the Independent Review of the Victorian Ports System. The State Government has accepted all 63 recommendations from the Review, including establishing Ports Victoria as a single entity to lead the strategic management and operation of Victorian commercial ports and waterways.

With the freight and logistics sector already contributing $21 billion to Victoria’s economy each year and employing 260,000 Victorians, the Bill is set to make it more agile and efficient in supporting economic growth and recovery, and adaptable as circumstances change.

Victorian Minister for Ports and Freight, Melissa Horne, said, “With freight volumes expected to more than double over the next 30 years, the safe and efficient operation of our ports is vital to Victoria’s economic growth and this bill is another significant step to improving the operation of our ports.

“These changes will make our port system more efficient, adaptable and ready to support growth and recovery.”

As well as embedding Ports Victoria in legislation, the changes include:

  • Adapting its charter to promote and facilitate trade
  • Undertaking operational activities
  • Providing technical and consultancy services concerning the whole of the Victorian ports system

The Bill will further improve the safety of essential port services such as pilotage and towage by giving harbour masters clear responsibility and powers to ensure navigational safety in their ports. 

Transport Safety Victoria will retain responsibility for licensing individual pilots and registering pilotage services providers; however, the Bill provides that registration must follow the issue of a licence by Ports Victoria.

The Review recommended targeted reform to give Ports Victoria a specific role overseeing the operational performance of the state’s harbour masters to ensure their safety roles and functions will reliably and consistently apply across Victoria’s commercial ports.

The Port of Hastings Development Authority will become the Port of Hastings Corporation to better reflect its future role and open the potential for investment and development across a range of dry and liquid bulk trades. The port will potentially play a key role in supporting new energy projects such as offshore wind and hydrogen.

Approximately $26 billion of locally produced and manufactured exports pass through Victoria’s commercial ports annually, handling almost a quarter of Australia’s total food and fibre exports. The Port of Melbourne is the largest port for containerised and general cargo in Australia, handling around 36 per cent of the nation’s container trade. 

The Bill is a significant step forward in implementing the State Government’s response to an independent review of the port system. 

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